October 1, 2008

Starting Wars for Dummies, 1st ed.

A lot of people have mentioned this article because of the possibility that the Iranian ship has radioactive materials aboard that are killing the pirates. To me the much much more interesting issue is that we see revealed a miniature, a little "Cliff Notes" version of the path that led to the Global War on Terror we are now in. Maybe I should write a book, "War Promotion for Dummies!"

A tense standoff has developed in waters off Somalia over an Iranian merchant ship laden with a mysterious cargo that was hijacked by pirates.

Somali pirates suffered skin burns, lost hair and fell gravely ill "within days" of boarding the MV Iran Deyanat. Some of them died....

...About 22000 ships a year pass through the Suez Canal and the Gulf of Aden, where regional instability and "no-questions-asked" ransom payments have led to a dramatic rise in attacks on vessels by heavily armed Somali raiders in speedboats.

The Iran Deyanat was sailing in those waters on August 21, past the Horn of Africa and about 80 nautical miles southeast of Yemen, when it was boarded by about 40 pirates armed with AK-47s and rocket-propelled grenades. They were alleged members of a crime syndicate said to be based at Eyl, a small fishing village in northern Somalia...
This is just insane. We, the Western, developed world, are tolerating piracy in the 21st Century? WHY?
  • Is there any question that piracy is totally wrong according to the generally accepted values of the civilized world?
  • Is there any question that the powers have both a right and duty to suppress it?
  • Is there any question that we have fought piracy in the past, to the great good of the planet. (And especially to the poor of the world, who would be hurt most by contractions in trade?)
  • Is there any question that the problem will get worse if not stopped now? That the profits of piracy will be invested in more powerful weapons and the recruitment of more pirates?
  • Is there any question that we have ample power to fight the problem? (Think satellite surveillance, Predator drones, Hellfire missiles into any speedboats approaching ships.)

The answer is that we are paralyzed because we have lost the core values of Western Civilization. America partly, Europe almost totally. The real problem is inside the souls of the people of the West. The problem is nihilism.

And that is precisely the case with the War on Terror. We had the right and duty to squelch terrorism when it first became a problem, many decades ago. And we didn't. And because we failed to slaughter hundreds of people back in, say, the 1960's, hundreds of thousands have to die now. Maybe millions. The short answer is that pacifism is murder, and those who call themselves pacifists or anti-war activists these days have blood of innocents dripping from their hands.

But the bigger problem is that there is almost no real pacifism today--it's just a smokescreen to hide empty souls who don't dare to take any decisive action, because that requires acknowledging higher duties.

Western civilization is, to its very core, a Christian civilization. Once the habits of Christian virtues (which can also be held by unbelievers) are lost, there is really nothing left.

...The moral approach to war in Aquinas and Calvin is refreshing for those familiar with modern Christian approaches to warfare--approaches which, more often than not, do little to help Christians understand why they should be prepared to participate in or support war of any kind. Aquinas and Calvin, in contrast, teach Christian soldiers why they need to participate in and support just wars. From the divine point of view, God desires to restrain evil among His creatures. And in using human beings to do so, God actually elevates the restrainers...

...The most noteworthy aspect of the moral approach to warfare in Aquinas and Calvin is that it teaches--contrary to today's prevailing views--that a failure to engage in a just war is a failure of virtue, a failure to act well. An odd corollary of this conclusion is that it is a greater evil for Christians to fail to wage a just war than it is for unbelievers. When an unbeliever fails to go to war, the cause may be a lack of courage, prudence, or justice. He may be a coward or simply indifferent to evil. These are failures of natural moral virtue. When Christians (at least in the tradition of Aquinas and Calvin) fail to engage in just war, it may involve all of these natural failures as well, but it will also, and more significantly, involve a failure of charity. The Christian who fails to use force to aid his neighbor when prudence dictates that force is the best way to render that aid is an uncharitable Christian. Hence, Christians who willingly and knowingly refuse to engage in a just war do a vicious thing: they fail to show love toward their neighbor as well as toward God.
    -- Darrell Cole

The story or myth that expresses this is the story of the knight who protects the innocent. I don't think the like occurs in non-Christian cultures. There are no folk-tales or ballads of the Centurion or the Samurai who has a duty or calling to protect the little people. If you follow the stories of our troops (and sometimes the Brits) in Iraq and Afghanistan, you will see the old story told anew. (You won't get it from the foul devils of our "news-media," but us bloggers pass the tales on like Samizdat.)

Posted by John Weidner at October 1, 2008 11:24 AM
Weblog by John Weidner